Storytelling has been an integral part of many cultures, none quite as strong as in the African and Islamic cultures, with poetry and tales that last millennia. Abubakar Adam Ibrahim is using his talents as a storyteller to bring us today’s tale, one that combines a forbidden romance with political intrigue, and flavors it with the rich tapestry of Africa. Please read on for my review and an excerpt from
Season of Crimson Blossoms
Unpacking expectations and showing a glimpse of modern-day, post-colonial Nigeria: conservative and vibrant with influences from Christianity and Islam, the societal censure and expectations are not unlike those in small town America of the 1950’s, without the diversity that is. Ibrihim’s writing style is lyrical and occasionally effluent, full of adjectives and descriptions that bring visual imagery and take you to that “we’re not in Kansas anymore” place as you read.
Introducing the widowed Binta: now 55 she’s lived her life always coloring in the lines, until the unthinkable happens, her first son dies, and in her grief she is wondering just why she was so worried about everyone else when her own grief is so keen. Reza is a thug, a gang member and deals weed. At 26, he’s had a life full of struggle after being abandoned by his mother. But, old enough to be his grandmother, Binta, is someone he can’t walk away from. Even though, his mother would have been young enough to be Binta’s child. But these two fit well together, despite their differences, and their secret romance set amidst the tapestry of the large extended family, political unrest, religious violence and general danger due to Reza’s own affiliations.
Quite simply, the story opens …..
Hajiya Binta Zubairu was finally born at fifty-five when a dark-lipped rogue with short, spiky hair, like a field of minuscule anthills, scaled her fence and landed, boots and all, in the puddle that was her heart.
Full of twists, turns and more than a bit of tension both from the politics and the relationship, with an ending that is, if not entirely surprising, wholly appropriate the story evokes those conflicted and conflicting human emotions, choices and decisions that are common to all. Additionally with presenting a story that is unapologetically African in feel and language, Ibrihim also smashes expectations of culprits and antagonists: a story heavily flavored with languages, religious fervors and even political corruption so prevalent in Nigeria, he presents these without polemic or judgement: allowing the effected people to present a human response, not a carefully westernized version of events.
Outstanding is the diversity, with words, attitudes and descriptions that educate and enlighten without Ibrihim’s efforts to sanitize, apologize or consciously pander to soften the story, challenging readers to open their minds as they turn the pages.
Title: Season of Crimson Blossoms
Author: Abubakar Adam Ibrahim
Genre: African, Contemporary Fiction - Adult, Literary Fiction, Nigeria, Political Elements, Romantic Elements
Published by: Casava Republic Press
Published on: 2 May 2017
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
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An affair between 55-year-old widow Binta Zubairu and 25-year-old weed dealer Reza was bound to provoke condemnation inconservative Northern Nigeria.
Brought together in unusual circumstances, Binta and Reza faced a need they could only satisfy in each other. Binta - previously reconciled with God - now yearns for intimacy after the sexual repression of her marriage, the pain of losing her first son and the privations of widowhood. Meanwhile, Reza's heart lies empty and waiting to be filled due to the absence of a mother.
The situation comes to a head when Binta's wealthy son confronts Reza, with disastrous consequences.
This story of love and longing - set against undercurrents of political violence - unfurls gently, revealing layers of emotion that defy age, class and religion.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
The publisher has generously provided a list of Hausa/Arabic words and phrases used in the book, allowing you to not simply intuit meaning from context, but see actual intended meaning.
You can grab that here.
Cassava Republic Press is a dynamic African publishing company with a clear mission – to change the way the world thinks about African writing. With an eclectic list of quality literary fiction, crime, romance, young adult fiction and children’s books, Cassava Republic aims to spotlight the vibrancy and diversity of prose by African writers on the continent and in the Diaspora. Founded in Abuja, Nigeria in 2006, Cassava Republic has a proven record of discovering and developing the careers of some of Africa’s most exciting contemporary writers, such as Teju Cole and Helon Habila, and a reputation for publishing high quality fiction and non-fiction for adults and children alike.
From Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s mesmerising Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun, Elnathan John’s critically-acclaimed coming-of-age novel Born on a Tuesday and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim’s Season of Crimson Blossoms, a controversial and gripping story of an affair between a devout Muslim grandmother and a 25-year-old drug dealer and political thug; to the Lagos-based pulsating crime novel Easy Motion Tourist (Leye Adenle) – Cassava Republic’s list represents an exciting new body of African literature linking writers across different times and spaces and genres.